South Carolina Republican Introduces Bill To Ban US Currency As Legal Tender In South Carolina

South Carolina might be a great state for the teabaggers. A bill was introduced in the South Carolina legislature would ban U.S. currency as legal tender:

South Carolina will no longer recognize U.S. currency as legal tender, if State Rep. Mike Pitts has his way.

Pitts, a fourth-term Republican from Laurens, introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban what he calls “the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin” in South Carolina.

If the bill were to become law, South Carolina would no longer accept or use anything other than silver and gold coins as a form of payment for any debt, meaning paper money would be out in the Palmetto State.

Pitts said the intent of the bill is to give South Carolina the ability to “function through gold and silver coinage” and give the state a “base of currency” in the event of a complete implosion of the U.S. economic system.

“I’m not one to cry ‘chicken little,’ but if our federal government keeps spending at the rate we’re spending I don’t see any other outcome than the collapse of the economic system,” Pitts said.

But one legal expert told The Palmetto Scoop that, even if it were passed, Pitts’ bill would quickly be ruled unconstitutional.

“It violates a perfectly legal and Constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, that federal reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private,” the expert said. “We settled this debate in the early 1800s. I appreciate the political sentiment but the law is blatantly unconstitutional.”

Unconstitutional? So  much for the meme that the far right believes in strictly following the Constitution. The Constitution which the far right follows is one which exists in their heads, not the one written by the Founding Fathers. Pitts had his answer:

Pitts, however, dismissed that claim, saying that “adherence to the Constitution is a two-edged sword. The federal government has consistently violated the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment and Commerce Clause.”

As I said, the right wing has their own version of the Constitution.

Banning fiat currency is a first step towards attracting the teabaggers to the state. The next step might be to ban standard English spelling of words.

Posted in Economy, Republicans. 7 Comments »

US Forces In Iraq Falls Below 100,000

I’ve often seen claims coming from opponents of Barack Obama from the far left that Obama is escalating the war in Iraq. The reality is that he is reducing troops there, leading to a milestone today as the number of US forces in Iraq has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since the invasion in 2003:

The size of the US force in Iraq has dropped below 100,000 troops for the first time since the invasion of the country in 2003, a military spokesman said Wednesday.

“We have approximately 98,000 service members here at this time,” First Lieutenant Elizabeth Feste said in an email.

The total number of US soldiers in Iraq peaked at 170,000 in 2007 during then US president George W. Bush’s so-called “surge” of troops in a bid to stabilise the country which was wracked by sectarian violence.

Posted in Barack Obama, Iraq. Tags: , . 6 Comments »

Barack Interested in Stewart But Not Colbert; Michelle on Huckabee’s Show

Barack Obama has been on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and  Late Night with David Letterman. Michael Scherer of Time asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs whether Obama would appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

“I think the President would love to, just maybe not Colbert.” He went on to explain:”I have yet to see a politician best Stephen Colbert in an interview on his show,” Gibbs said, laughing. “I mean, he’s really, really good.”

So there you have it. My role as matchmaker is now complete. Jon Stewart, you should make a phone call. Gibbs is on the record. The President of the United States wants to do your show.

As for Stephen Colbert, tough luck. But I wonder, Stephen, are you just going to sit there and take that sort of treatment from the commander in chief?

Obama actually did previously appear on Colbert’s show by satellite in June (video here).

Michelle Obama has a planned television appearance on Fox with Mike Huckabee to discuss child obesity.

Why Selling Health Insurance Over State Lines Is A Bad Idea

A major Republican idea for health care is to allow insurance to be sold across state lines. The problem is that this would allow insurance companies to all operate out of the states with the weakest laws to protect consumers against the abuses by the insurance industry. The Senate health care reform bill does allow for such sales, but only after placing new restrictions upon the insurance industry.

My fear is that, in the absence of federal regulation, allowing sales of insurance across state lines will result in a far greater number of claims being denied without good reason. Ezra Klein looked at the economics of this, citing a report by the Congressional Budget Office:

As it happens, the Congressional Budget Office looked at a bill along these lines back in 2005. They found that the legislation wouldn’t change the number of the uninsured and would save the federal government about $12 billion between 2007 and 2015. That is to say, it would do very little in the aggregate.

But those top-line numbers hid a more depressing story. The legislation “would reduce the price of individual health insurance coverage for people expected to have relatively low health care costs, while increasing the price of coverage for those expected to have relatively high health care costs,” CBO said. “Therefore, CBO expects that there would be an increase in the number of relatively healthy individuals, and a decrease in the number of individuals expected to have relatively high cost, who buy individual coverage.”

That is to say, the legislation would not change the number of insured Americans or save much money, but it would make insurance more expensive for the sick and cheaper for the healthy, and lead to more healthy people with insurance and fewer sick people with insurance. It’s a great proposal if you don’t ever plan to be sick, and if you don’t mind finding out that your insurer doesn’t cover your illness. And it’s the Republican plan for health-care reform.

Transforming An Insurgent Campaign Into A Governing Philosophy

Running an insurgent campaign is one thing. It is harder to be the insurgent force once you are in office. Tim Dickinson looked into the attempt to make this transformation in an article at Rolling Stone. He places the blame for the failure to maintain the enthusiasm for Obama’s agenda on David Plouffe, who was eager to get out after the campaign:

“There was no question of my joining the administration,” he recounts in his memoir. So Plouffe, in a truly bizarre call, decided to incorporate Obama for America as part of the Democratic National Committee. The move meant that the machinery of an insurgent candidate, one who had vowed to upend the Washington establishment, would now become part of that establishment, subject to the entrenched, partisan interests of the Democratic Party. It made about as much sense as moving Greenpeace into the headquarters of ExxonMobil.

This led to problems including becoming two closely identified with the Democratic Party machinery, risking the alienation of independents and Republicans who backed Obama. The departure of Plouffe (who has since rejoined the Obama administration as an adviser) also led to a more conventional legislative strategy:

The decision to shunt Organizing for America into the DNC had far-reaching consequences for the president’s first year in office. For starters, it destroyed his hard-earned image as a new kind of politician, undercutting the post-partisan aura that Obama enjoyed after the election. “There were a lot of independents, and maybe even some Republicans, on his list of 13 million people,” says Joe Trippi, who launched the digital age of politics as the campaign manager for Howard Dean in 2004. “They suddenly had to ask themselves, ‘Do I really want to help build the Democratic Party?’”

In addition, with Plouffe providing less input in his inner circle, Obama began to pursue a more traditional, backroom approach to enacting his agenda. Rather than using OFA to engage millions of voters to turn up the heat on Congress, the president yoked his political fortunes to the unabashedly transactional style of politics advocated by his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Health care reform — the centerpiece of his agenda — was no longer about mobilizing supporters to convince their friends, families and neighbors in all 50 states. It was about convincing 60 senators in Washington. It became about deals.

This affected how health care reform was approached:

What backfired, it turns out, was ceding populist outrage on health care to the far right. Because OFA failed to mobilize the American people to confront the insurance companies, it allowed industry-funded Republicans, like former House majority leader Dick Armey, to foment a revolt by the Tea Partiers, whose anger dominated the news. Stewart, the director of OFA, says the failure to anticipate last summer’s town-hall ragefest was his. “Organizing for America did not properly plan for that first week of August,” he says. “That was an error on my part.” OFA scrambled to rally its troops, generating more than 300,000 calls to Congress on a single day. But the belated effort typified the group’s first year. “It’s always reactive and half-hearted,” says Moulitsas. “The movement was built on the concept of big change — but they haven’t gone after the things you need to do to enact change.” Indeed, OFA’s own numbers reveal a sharp drop-off in activist participation: All told, only 2.5 million of its 13 million followers took part in its health care campaign last year — and that’s counting people who did nothing but sign the group’s “statement of support.”

“It didn’t work — with an exclamation point at the end!” says Rollins, the former Reagan strategist. “They didn’t keep the organization alive. They thought it was out there to use whenever they wanted to use it. But with constituents who feel like they’ve been part of a revolution — as ours did in ’80 and ’81 — you’ve got to feed them. You’ve got to make sure that they feel important.” Instead, says Rollins, OFA “e-mailed them to death, but without any real steps to make them feel a part of the process, like they felt a part of the campaign.”

Fortunately the Obama administration is becoming more engaged in pushing for health care reform. The question is if it is too late to overcome the propaganda campaign of the far right which has many people believing false claims regarding the legislation.

Congratulations to Sadie on Westminster Victory

Congratulations to Sadie and the Musser family for Sadie’s victory as Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show yesterday. Dan and Amelia Musser  Sadie’s owners, also own Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. I have often seen Amelia Musser walking her dogs around Grand Hotel, and Sadie often gets to enjoy room service at the hotel.

Sadie appeared on Good Morning America today and she will be on MSNBC at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow to open the New York Stock Exchange. President Obama should also invite Sadie for a visit to the White House and a play date with Bo. It would be only fair to reciprocate as in August 2008 the Musser family kindly contributed the use of the Gate House restaurant on the grounds of Grand Hotel for a Mackinac for Obama fund raiser.

Farmville

I sure didn’t expect to see Billie Piper playing “Farmville” on Showtime’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl this week.